While much of the City of Greater Sudbury is still in the midst of an ongoing arena debate, there is another proposed arena that affects the Valley East and Capreol community directly.
This specific arena circles around the proposed closure of the Raymond Plourde (formerly Confederation), Centennial and Capreol arenas to build a new twin-pad arena near the Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre in Hanmer.
This plan would cut the ice surfaces in half for Valley East and Capreol, bringing these communities from four pads down to two.
The exact proposed site of this new twin-pad arena is over top of eight acres of urban green space, one of the few that the Valley East community still has within the area. This green space is home to several beautiful walking trails, lush woodland and countless wildlife to be destroyed for this project.
Meanwhile, there are many city-owned plots of land across Valley East and Capreol that are prime locations to build new arenas, several of which are already cleared enough to put a pair of Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complexes without having to add more cost in construction in order to bulldoze any urban green space.
These locations can clearly be observed with Google Maps satellite images as City of Greater Sudbury owned property, as there are fully serviced city facilities on the plots of land already, despite Councillor Bob Kirwan repeatedly stating on his Facebook page that “There are no other municipally owned locations in Valley East that would be suitable for the twin pad arena.”
As residents of Valley East and Capreol, we were distributed a very vague information pamphlet in the mail from the city in early February. This pamphlet states, among many things, that “this project remains pending the approval of council,” which directly contradicts Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan’s statement on his Facebook group of “Council made the decision last December. This is simply a continuation of that process.”
Well, which is it Coun. Kirwan? Has a decision been made or is it still pending approval?
The distributed pamphlet also stated there were four “community consultation” sessions scheduled for the last week of February around Valley East and Capreol. These sessions were almost immediately cancelled by the councillors of Wards 5, 6 and 7 as they “were caught off guard” and they would not be able attend due to them having “followed on the heels of what could be a long week of budget meetings” as per Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo on his Facebook page.
This is despite the 2019 City of Greater Sudbury budget being approved a week prior to the scheduled date of these sessions. This poses another question: why were the councillors of the to-be-affected wards not spoken to about these sessions prior to a pamphlet being created and mailed to their constituents?
These “community consultation” sessions have since been rescheduled for Saturday, March 30 at the proposed to-be-closed arenas, which conveniently, directly coincides with the 39th Annual Valley East Renegades Tournament, a tournament that Coun. Kirwan states is “one of the most popular minor hockey tournaments of the year and is very well attended.”
I’ve personally been to the Renegades Tournament many times, and there are multiple teams who attend it from outside of Valley East and Capreol. That would mean that the City of Greater Sudbury and Coun. Kirwan expect to have a series of “community consultations” about closing the more than 45-year-old Valley East and Capreol arenas by holding sessions in said arenas while hundreds of potential respondents who are not only not citizens, but may never even step foot in a one of these arenas ever again, are expected to be in the arenas.
No councillor has publicly confirmed their attendance to any of these rescheduled sessions for actual constituents to bring these or any other points to the attention of those elected to represent us. Why not a town hall meeting instead of a diluted and essentially useless “community” consultation to restrict the input from those not in said community? Are those working on this project and the Ward 5, 6 and 7 councillors afraid of push-back from the citizens it directly affects?
As someone who grew up in Valley East and moved back to the area to raise my family, I fully believe something needs to be done with regards to the aging area arenas. However, I find the lack of clarity from councillors, the absence of consideration for properly utilizing city-owned land, combined with the blatant and fully endorsed dilution of what the citizens of the Valley East and Capreol communities actually think is abominable and pathetic.